PRINT September 1998

US News

the new Gramercy

THE GRAMERCY INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR, the rowdy, three-day event that has taken place at New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel each spring for the past five years, is getting a complete makeover. Gone are the crowded hallways (more than 4,000 people crammed last May’s installment), art leaning against headboards or propped on sinks, and—alas—such surprises as walking into a room to find a man showering or a woman in bed snuggling a motorcycle. The new fair, called the Armory Show 1999: The International Fair of New Art, will be much more like its Basel and Chicago counterparts, sober presentations compartmentalized in 10-by-12-foot booths.

GRAMERCY was initially a response to a need,” says Pat Hearn, who organized the fair along with fellow dealers Colin de Land, Paul Morris, and Matthew Marks. “A fair is something you do to stimulate the market. Now, the market is better, and we outgrew the funkiness. It was time to move to another venue that was more appealing to galleries who felt being in a hotel was not the optimal way to show art.”

The new fair is scheduled to debut February 18 during the run of the annual Art Dealers of America show uptown. Presumably hoping to capitalize on the crowds attending the ADA exhibition, fair organizers are betting that out-of-town collectors will be more than happy to make the trek downtown to check out the less staid (and more international) competition. It will be staged for five days at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue at 26th Street, site of the legendary Armory Show of 1913. Hearn hopes at least seventy galleries will participate. Only dealers devoted to contemporary art—working in the primary market and with living artists—will be included. And, of course, those who can cough up the entry fee, starting at $4,000.

William Harris